Creating learning communities and organizing majors into meta-majors to support first-year students at Georgia State University
How might we connect new students by similar academic interests to build community and foster student success?
- Created Freshmen Learning Communities (FLCs) starting in 1999 in which 25 students with similar academic interests would take all fall semester classes together in a block schedule
- Organized similar majors into groups called “meta-majors” (e.g., STEM) starting in 2012 to address the issue of students losing credit hours from switching majors, which happens often during the first year
FLCs have helped build a sense of community that makes GSU feel smaller for new students, with 95% of non-honors first-year students in FLCs by 2014. By creating meta-majors, FLCs were further improved by ensuring all courses taken via FLC counted for all majors within the meta-major. GSU has seen a 32% decrease in the number of major changes students make before graduation. Students in FLCs organized by meta-major showed higher first-year academic performance, first year-retention, and graduation rates. Some other highlights include:
- First-year retention rate of 85% for FLC participants in AY 2013-2014 versus 76% in 1998 before FLCs were created
- FLC participants also had higher first-year retention rate in AY 2013-2014 than non-participants (81%)
- 6-year graduation rate for the 2009 cohort, prior to the introduction of meta-majors, of 56% for FLC participants versus 50% for non-participants
- Average first-year GPA in AY 2013-2014 of 2.96 for FLC participants versus 2.73 for non-participants (edging them closer to the 3.0 eligibility requirement for HOPE)
Ready to take action?
Students of Color
Net cost of Attendance